Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Biting the Bullet

Well, I've gone and done it. I submitted my most current WIP in a contest. I've bitten that bullet very, very hard! But I know I need some more feedback on that WIP, and hopefully I'll get more good than bad.

So this blog post is two-fold. First, do you think about submitting to contests? At all? Once in a while? I hadn't really thought about it that much, the main reason being I'm so new at this writing business and I still have a lot to learn. Then I told myself that I've already learned a lot.

I finally started paying attention to all those contests posts I send through to the chapter all the time. I found one that I thought would would be beneficial to me. It's the Missiouri Romance Writers Gateway to the Best. They guarantee three experienced judges will look at each entry, with the grand prize winner having her mss looked at and critiqued in full by a published author and the final judges being editors from major publishers like Avon, Grand Central, and Harlequin, as examples.

Now, though I do hold a smidgen of hope and confidence that I could win, I'm just darned happy to get the feedback from one or more of these judges. What a wealth of help that would be!

Of course, it's our own Sarah who got me thinking about entering contests at all. Her enthusiasm over her entries, even despite a rough and mean-spirited-like critique from one judge, was definitely catching. And when she shared her good news that she'd actually finaled, well, who could resist that??

So, Sarah, thanks for all that wonderful exuberance! You know we're all pulling for you!

Second, how do you feel about contests as a whole? Even if you've never entered your work in one, do you think they're worth the time and the money? Is that worth getting any feedback on your story? Is it worth maybe getting negative feedback?

And if you did get negative feedback, what then? If it's only one judge, pfffft to them and go on? If three judges for whatever reason give you feedback you'd hoped to never get, would that be enough for you to finally say well, I knew writing wasn't for me, so there's the end of that dream? Or would it just straighten your spine a little more and push you back to the drawing board?

Of course, the converse is worth talking about. What if??? What if you got wonderful feedback, they really liked your work, you need to do a little extra editing and revising and maybe you can win next time! What if you actually won this time around??? There's always the possibility, so why not take the chance?

Is it fear of what someone will say about your work that keeps you from entering a contest? It's a 50-50 toss-up on which way it could go. Have you been sitting on the fence for a while, trying to decide if you should enter?

I finally decided that I need to know. Know something at least. Whether I really have the knack and talent to write. Whether I'm going in the right direction with my story if I do have the knack. Do I have enough in my story, enough emotion, enough conflict, enough of a dark moment, enough whatever it takes to keep it going. I want to to know some or even all of that and whatever else the judges give me.

I've decided it's all worth the risk. How much risk are you willing to take?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

How To Know Your Writing Is Getting Better

You should know I don't put much stock into outside validation. I don't shun it *who says no to praise?*, I just don't depend on it. One way I've found to know if I've grown as a writer, is to read some of my older work.

Compare and contrast. It's a very simple process. Open up a story you haven't looked at in a while. May be one of the first stories you wrote. It doesn't have to be completed, just earlier work.

Below I will provide a list of possible reactions that let you know you may have grown as a writer:

1. If there is a God why didn't he smite me for writing this dreck?

2. Fork. Eye. Gouge. Please.

3. What? What!?

4. I must have been drunk when I wrote this.

5. I sent this out to publishers?

6. No wonder I drove my CP up the wall.

7. I didn't write this, I couldn't have written this.

I could continue, but I think you get my drift. I was moving some old files onto another computer. I was feeling nostalgic and read my first book. Let's just say by the end of the first page I needed a glass of wine. I also realized that even on the days it feels like I'm getting nowhere, I have grown. No longer do I try to imitate Nora Roberts when I write. Okay, badly imitate Nora Roberts. I've come a very, very long way.

How far have you come?